This game seems to have legs... wait, no. Is ARMS a better fit?
I didn't know what to think of ARMS initially. While I enjoyed it back in January, the game needed to do a lot to win me over. Even when I got the final version, I still had a lot of doubts about it. But after the ARMS Direct and the Testpunches, I was thrilled to get the final copy. And no matter how I performed, ARMS has left me thrilled and ready for one more fight.
To address the elephant in the room, I'm all-in on the motion controls. For me, it was a sense of relief to move those arms and focus as little on button presses as possible. Sure, you jump and dash with said shoulder buttons, but it doesn't take long to master the movements. It was fun to curve punches, block and move yourself around with a Joy-Con in each hand. While playing, I found myself getting more worked up over matches and getting really into it. There was a groove there that wanted me out of that seat so I could get the job done. Not only is ARMS giving me a workout, it’s an incredibly fun one.
I can't fully disagree with the notion that the buttons provide more accurate punches, but I can't play ARMS that way. I tried with the Pro Controller's shoulder buttons to punch and clicking in the left stick to defend, but there was an instant disconnect for me. It fared somewhat better when I played ARMS in the handheld mode. While I still don't like the button placement, everything feels more instant and close by. It was a suitable replacement when out and about, but once I docked it, it was back to the Joy-Con with the straps.
When it comes to gameplay modes, I've spent most of my time on ARMS' online servers. During the Global Testpunch, you got to experience snippets of the Party Mode, but not every mode was on the table. They continued to pull modes in and out to give people a unique experience during the two weekends. In the full Party Mode, all of the modes are mixed and matched to your heart’s content. You go in a lobby, connect with a maximum of ten Nintendo Switch consoles and cycle through all the modes that are on offer. This includes free-for-all fights for up to four people, team fights, V-Ball, Hoops and Skillshot. Every time, I’d intend to only play for a few minutes but would spend an hour or more seeing what I’d get into with the other players in the lobby.
All of these can be experienced in other ways as well. You can set up friend lobbies in which you decide what modes to throw into the pot. It is possible to play only battles, remove items and streak bonuses, and only use the stages that you find legal. I call it the Final Destination approach of online battling. This setup is one of the best Nintendo has put together. What helps is that it all runs flawlessly, something I lost hope for after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. There were barely any disconnects and I got into games at a pretty rapid pace.
For the singleplayer or local multiplayer fanatics, you can experience it all in the Grand Prix and Versus modes as well. In Grand Prix, you work your way through 10 matches to become the very best. What I liked about the Grand Prix is that there is a good sense of progression, with seven difficulty levels to choose from. To learn a character, I started on the lowest level and learned all of their options by feel alone. Once I felt I knew the character, I bumped it up to the fourth difficulty and tried my hand at actually progressing with them. This worked with all of the characters bar one; I never got a good handle on Helix. I tried my darnedest to understand how it plays, but I simply don't like him all that much.
In Versus, you can find additional options to do more character studies. There is an addictive 1-on-100 mode in which you attempt to defeat 100 Helix clones in the fastest time possible. In ARMS Test, you pick a character and they get random ARMS sets equipped. Your job is to deal with those changes, make effective combinations and keep a streak of wins going. If you need help to understand certain naunces of characters, the Training Mode lets you learn punches, blocking and advanced techniques. The best part about ARMS is that everything in the game earns you money, which you can spend on getting ARMS for your characters so that you can use them in all of the different modes.
Another thing that I must give the game a lot of credit for is its style. I really adore how everything about ARMS is put together. The various stages and characters really pop with some really nice music as well. It always put me in a good mood and encouraged me to shoot for that additional round with my friends and family. It hits similar notes as Splatoon, as they both have colorful and unique looks. At the same time, it shows the power of what a Nintendo internally developed game can bring to the table.
ARMS is one of my favorite games on the Nintendo Switch so far. With a large slew of ARMS and fun gameplay options, it leaves me very happy. While I wished that I enjoyed the button controls and Helix more, there is still enough to keep you engaged. The game features striking character designs, great motion controls and a world that I surely want to know more about. Nintendo is shaping the summer with social competitive titles with this as the big original entry With more content coming in the future, I am confident that I will enjoy this game well beyond the end of the summer.